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Emma the Elephant

Emma the Elephant

Beginning Reader Lesson

Lindsey Smith   


When learning to read, it is very important for students to become phonemically aware.  Phonemically aware simply means that students should have an understanding of short vowel sounds.  The goal of this lesson is for students to learn the correspondence e=/e/.  The teacher will model how to sound out different words and how to write the specific letter. In this lesson, students will practice writing, spelling and reading words with the e=/e/ sound.


·         Tongue Twister Chart “Emma the elephant is excited to ride the elevator everyday”

·         Class Set of Letterboxes

·         Class Set of Letters

·         Pen Pal (Class Set)

·         Worksheet for Assessment

·         Primary Paper (2 Sheets for Each Student)

·         Class set of Letterbox Word List

·         Pencils



1.    “Today, we are going to learn what sound short e makes. Explain to students that when pronouncing words our mouth moves in different ways. We are going to be able to know which way our mouth moves when we see short /e/words in our book.”


2.  Ask students: “Has anyone ever heard an old creaky door open?” Tell students that whenever I hear an old creaky door I hear the /e/ sound. To make the mouth movement for /e/ we need to slightly open our mouths with our tongue sitting on the bottom. Have students practice by telling them to open the old creaky door and make the e sound.


3.  Next say, “Now let’s try a tongue twister using our chart. Listen closely as I say it to you. “Emma the elephant is excited to ride the elevator everyday” Say it with me three times. Great job everyone! This time when we say it whenever you hear the /e/ sound I want you to stretch it out and pull the old creaky door. “Eeeeemma the eeeeelephant is eeeeexcited to ride the eeeeelevator eeeeeeveryday.”


4.  I want you to listen really closely when I say some words to you. Raise your hand and tell me which word you hear the /e/ sound in. For example, if I said red or ran, the answer would be red because I hear the creaky door sound. Do you hear /e/ in: bed or floor? sled or dad? beg or bag? full or fed? pig or peg?


5.   Pass out primary paper to each student. Explain how we are going to practice writing the letter e. Start by drawing a short straight line in the middle of the fence and the sidewalk, then draw a curve up and touch the fence. Go back down towards your first line and all the way down to make a curve on the sidewalk. You should finish halfway between where you started the e and the sidewalk. (Model it for the class). After you have practiced writing the letter e one time, give me a thumbs up and I will come around to check your work. When I put a smiley face on your paper I want you to write it five more times.


6.   Next, we are going to spell words with e. We are going to use our letterboxes and our letters for this activity. Explain to students that each box represents a mouth movement. Model for them how to use the letterbox with an example. I am going to spell the word bed. How many movements does my mouth make in /b//e//d/? Great job, just three! So, my first letter in my first box is going to be the letter b to represent the /b/ sound. My next letter should be the letter e to represent the /e/ sound. This letter goes in my second letterbox. My last letter should be the letter d to represent the /d/ sound. This letter goes in my last letterbox. Now, I want you to try spelling some words on your own. These words have three sounds {peg, red, get}. These words have four sounds. {rest, tent, bead} Here are words with five sounds! {trend, bread, slept}. After the students have had a chance to spell all the words pass out a word list for them to read as a class.


7.  To help the students apply this lesson; I will give them a brief book talk and read Pen Pals. I will introduce the book by saying, “Ben is a little baby who plays in a playpen. He doesn’t like spending time in the pen. He just wants his pet Ted to be able to join him in the pen, but he can’t get in! Will Ted ever be able to get to Ben? We will have to read to find out!” I will read the story one time to the students and just have them listen. The next time I read the story, I will ask the students to give a thumbs up every time they hear the creaky old door sound. I will also ask them to remember some of the words they heard and write them on the board.


8.   The last part of the lesson, I will then pass out another sheet of primary paper and ask the students to write a short message about a pet they might have or want. For the assessment, I will give them a worksheet where they have to match the correct picture the word. 



Pen Pals by Sheila Cushman

Murray, Bruce.  Mouth Moves and Gestures for Phonemes.


Gibson, Laura.  Edgar Elephant.


 Assessment Worksheet Link:


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